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Pradaxa Lawsuits to be Selected as Bellwether Trials

Pradaxa multidistrict litigation continues to progress in Illinois. Judge David R. Herndon, the U.S. District judge presiding over the federal MDL, has established guidelines for selecting bellwether trials from the hundreds of Pradaxa lawsuits currently pending in the coordination. These early trials will act as a type of measurement for attorneys on both sides of the courtroom, to gauge how juries respond to testimony and evidence regarding the drug.

Side effects of Pradaxa prompt litigation

Pradaxa is a blood-thinning medication that was introduced in 2010 by manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim. At the time, Pradaxa was highly touted as an effective and convenient alternative to an older anticoagulant drug known as Warfarin. It was used primarily to treat patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, to reduce the risk of blood clots and a potential stroke.

However, it wasn’t long before serious side effects of Pradaxa were reported. Between October 2010 and March 2011, The FDA received more than 900 reports of serious bleeding events linked to Pradaxa, including 120 deaths and 500 more reports of life-threatening bleeding. Injured patients began to file Pradaxa lawsuits in hopes of pursuing compensation for their pain and suffering, and economic losses.

Pradaxa multidistrict litigation established

The number of lawsuits filed against Boehringer Ingelheim continued to grow and by August 2012, a panel for multidistrict litigation coordinated all federal lawsuits into multidistrict litigation in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. An MDL is established when there are a number of lawsuits with similar allegations and issues of fact against a shared defendant. By coordinating these lawsuits into a single court, the early portions of the legal process can be streamlined more efficiently. It also prevents duplicate discovery and conflicting rulings from different courtrooms.

Bellwether guidelines now in motion

After the Pradaxa MDL was established, Judge Herndon promised to move the proceedings forward “expeditiously.” The recently established guidelines require attorneys representing the plaintiffs and defendant to submit a list of eight possible cases to be named as bellwether trials by May 15. The court also provided a process for replacing cases on the lists that are duplications or settled prior to July. The lawsuits will then be narrowed to six by November, which will be chosen by representatives from both sides. From that final pool of six, Judge Herndon will choose four bellwether trials, which are currently slated to begin in August, 2014. The rest of the bellwether trials are scheduled for November 2014, January 2015, and February 2015.

The criteria for choosing the bellwether trials are fairly specific. Judge Herndon has required that at least five of the cases chosen by each side involve gastrointestinal bleeding. No more than two of the cases on each side may allege that a traumatic injury was exacerbated by Pradaxa use, and only one on each side can include a report of a TIA (transient ischemic attack) before using Pradaxa. Judge Herndon has also limited the number of wrongful death lawsuits each side can select to three chosen by each side.

At the same time the bellwether selection process is in place, Judge Herndon has also ordered both sides to meet monthly regarding potential settlement of Pradaxa lawsuits, which will begin in August, 2013.